When Harvey Cyral Shineflew was born on 1 February 1916, in Salem, Richardson, Nebraska, United States, his father, Joseph Brooklyn Shineflew, was 35 and his mother, Olive May Reed, was 29. He lived in Polk, Iowa, United States in 1925. He died on 31 October 1994, in Des Moines, Polk, Iowa, United States, at the age of 78, and was buried in Chapel Hill Cemetery, Green Mountain, Marshall, Iowa, United States.
Transferred use of the surname, which is derived from a Breton personal name composed of haer ‘battle’ + vy ‘worthy’. It was introduced to Britain by Bretons who settled in East Anglia and elsewhere in the wake of the Norman Conquest.